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RISMEDIA, April 16, 2010—The extension of the home buyer tax credit encouraged many fence-sitters to jump at the chance to achieve the dream of homeownership this past year. Tax incentives, low interest rates and prices have made homeownership more affordable than ever, creating an influx of first-time buyers in the market. As the deadline for the home buyer tax credit approaches, many REALTORS® are wondering: what happens next?

Any seasoned professional like yourself knows that real estate is cyclical. Prices will rise and fall, inventory will fluctuate and opinions will change, but your buyers and sellers remain. And today’s buyer is more educated than ever.

According to the 2009 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 93% of first-time buyers started their home search online. With an awareness of the homes available prior to meeting with an agent, today’s buyers are looking for someone to help them with the parts of the process they can’t do alone. According to the survey, 90% of buyers considered knowledge of the purchase process, responsiveness and knowledge of the real estate market as very important when deciding to work with an agent.

While it is still uncertain how the market will adjust to the expiration of the tax credit, low interest rates and affordability will still draw buyers into the market. In an attempt to get you thinking about building your buyer business this spring, I thought that I would remind you of some “back to basics” to ponder:

Know your market. From inventory that a buyer may have overlooked in an online search to short sale and foreclosure options, knowing your local market inside and out can provide added benefit to your client. The current market has made more options available to first-time buyers, in price ranges that some may have overlooked previously.

Host a home-buyer seminar. Home-buyer seminars put agents in front of motivated buyers and give them an opportunity to shine as a source of knowledge and a trusted advisor who can guide a buyer through the complex process. Try setting up one through your office or encouraging agents to co-host a seminar with a local lender to explain financing issues.

Connect with buyers on their level. Not only are today’s buyers educated, but they are technologically savvy. Whether it’s a phone call or a text message, finding out a buyer’s communication preferences is the first step in setting the tone for your relationship throughout the home-buying process.

Maximize your social influence. Social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn allow brokers to reach out to agents and agents to reach more buyers than ever before. Contributing to these online networking communities regularly can not only build sphere of influence but it creates top-of-mind awareness when a consumer decides to look for an agent.

Be a financial guide. From outlining key steps to suggesting preapproval, guiding buyers through the financial parts of the transaction is especially important in today’s market.

Marc Gould is the executive director of REBAC. A wholly owned subsidiary of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), The Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC) is the world’s largest association of real estate professionals focusing specifically on representing the real estate buyer. With more than 40,000 active members, REBAC awards the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation to REALTORS® who work directly with buyer-clients. To learn more, please visit REBAC.net.

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